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Streaming enters a new reality with a boom in sports and drive for profitability as fresh voices continue to break through with innovative storytelling on new platforms

reservation dogs fx
"Reservation Dogs."
  • Hollywood is increasingly being reshaped by creative and technological change. 
  • Big entertainment players face pressure to make streaming profitable and satisfy diverse audiences.
  • Insider highlighted 12 media and entertainment figures who are driving and navigating these shifts.
  • 100 People Transforming Business is an annual list highlighting people across industries who are changing the way the world does business. Check out the full list for 2022. 

As the pandemic streaming boom decelerates, Hollywood is adjusting to a new reality.

Streamers are battling higher churn as new services come on the market. Netflix and Disney are rolling out cheaper, ad-supported streamers in search of new customers and their slice of an ad market Insider Intelligence estimates will hit $38.8 billion by 2026. 

Newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery is fighting for streaming profitability as it cuts costs across the board. WBD, Netflix, and NBCUniversal are among the companies that have made significant layoffs this year, and streamers and networks are reining in spending on content, too.

But amid all these continuing disruptions and challenges, growth and innovation are still driving forward in Hollywood, and Insider is highlighting 11 people in media and entertainment — plus one innovator nominated by our audience — who are exploiting these shifts to transform how and what consumers everywhere watch.

As streamers feel the limits of subscription growth, free, ad-supported TV streamers like Tubi have grabbed market share. Under CEO and founder Farhad Massoudi, the Fox-owned platform has grown to more than 51 million monthly active users since its 2014 launch and is doubling down on original content to serve them.

With theaters and production shut down, Universal film chairwoman Donna Langley put DreamWorks' animated movie "Trolls World Tour" on video on demand. It marked the first time a major studio's new release was available at home instead of exclusively in theaters — generating a new revenue stream that all Hollywood studios now capitalize on to reach audiences in the multiplex and on the couch. 

And in a pivot that industry observers have been anticipating for several years, the top streamers this year made big inroads into live sports, with tech giants Amazon and Apple both inking huge league deals (even Netflix dipped its toe in the waters with a bid on Formula One racing).

In a groundbreaking move, Amazon snagged the exclusive streaming rights for the NFL's "Thursday Night Football." Behind the coup was global sports VP Marie Donoghue, who's also been acquiring sports rights around the globe. And at Apple, Services lead Eddy Cue is overseeing Apple TV+'s deals with MLB and MLS, with an appetite for more.

As sports content heats up, more athletes have added producing to their resume — LeBron James and his partner Maverick Carter have led this group with their company, SpringHill, developing a range of businesses and investing in other top pros like Naomi Osaka.

While many in Hollywood fear that marginalized voices could get sidelined in a tougher market, 2022 has seen more storytelling and content elevating previously excluded communities. With more films being released directly to streaming — and being seen there by increasingly diverse audiences — has meant broader opportunities for creators of all backgrounds.

Native voices in particular have emerged in the last two years after decades of marginalization and stereotyping, and Sterlin Harjo, the showrunner of Hulu's award-winning "Reservation Dogs," is at the vanguard of this shift. 

A storyteller who's expanded Hollywood's reach in another way, writer-producer Taylor Sheridan has successfully leveraged the streaming era by appealing to rural audiences. His twist on the Western, Paramount Network's "Yellowstone," became the biggest show on cable spun off a streaming hit with Paramount+ prequel series "1883," the platform's most successful original so far. (And the "Yellowstone" universe is still growing, as is demand for other Sheridan projects.)

The power of video-based social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube has also continued to offer new pathways for creators to build stardom through community. 

TikTok owes its ubiquity in part to the millions of creators who make entertaining content for the app. And helping nurture that community is Kudzi Chikumbu, its global head of creator marketing, whose team has worked on several initiatives to support underrepresented groups, including a #BlackTikTok program and Casa TikTok effort to amplify content from Latinx creators.

Then there's Webtoon Americas, a digital comics company that's paved new ways for creators to express themselves, find audiences, and monetize their passions. Some Webtoon Originals have even become hit TV shows, like Netflix hit "All of Us Are Dead." As CEO Ken Kim told Insider, "It's not just professional creators — they are from all over the world."

The proliferation of platforms for entertainment and storytelling has helped amplify fledgling and established stars alike — from Dream, a Minecraft streamer who's built a vital community that's allowed him to cash in with ads and subscriptions, to Lizzo, who engages with her 25 million-plus TikTok followers on everything from body positivity to her skincare routine to the challenges of being in the public eye.

Even as the entertainment industry and creator economy face economic headwinds in the coming months, these artists, dreamers, and doers are ensuring there will be rich new opportunities to tell stories and connect with audiences worldwide.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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